Rachael Walters Brightwell
- Associate Director for Programing and Outreach
Four hundred years after William Shakespeare’s death, his work continues to resonate with audiences across the globe, providing new insights into the nature of love, power, and human existence. This month, Theater Emory embarks on a yearlong focus on the man whose words changed the world.
In honor of Shakespeare’s First Folio’s upcoming visit to campus, Theater Emory launches into a yearlong celebration of Shakespeare with the great romantic comedy “As You Like It,” running March 31 – April 10 in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater. As one character famously asks, “Can one desire too much of a good thing?” Theater Emory tackles this question head-on with two productions running in repertory: an all-male cast directed by Tim McDonough and an all-female cast directed by Jan Akers.
“We are interested in hearing Shakespeare’s play through the voices of male performers and the voices of female performers. We are curious to see if certain themes, points of view, and emotions might come into focus differently or similarly in the two productions,” explains Akers, “The genders of the characters remain as Shakespeare wrote them. We are asking the actors to seek what is human in each of the characters.”
Thrown into exile, fellow intrepid travellers seek out the forest of Arden to wrestle with questions of betrayal, new identities, freedom, and true love. In Theater Emory’s productions, the famous Burning Man Festival of citizen artists that takes place annually in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert inspires the fictional Arden. “In our production, Arden is an existential quest, a place to find your authentic self or reinvent yourself, to see if people can mean what they say and if love can be trusted,” says McDonough. “It is a network of dreamers and doers creating a culture of possibility. As noted in its mission: ‘Burning Man is a laboratory. Not every experiment works, but we’ll never know if we don’t try.’”
Performances of As You Like It run in repertory March 31-April 10 in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater of the Dobbs University Center. The all-male production performs March 31, April 7, and April 9-10 at 7 p.m. and April 3 at 2 p.m. The all-female production performs April 2-3, 6 and 8 at 7 p.m. and April 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22, $18 for discount category members, and $6 for Emory students and are on sale now at arts.emory.edu/tickets, by phone at 404-727-5050, or in person at the Arts at Emory Box Office in the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Discounts are not available online. Special $4 tickets are available for stage-side floor cushion seats. Just like the groundlings of Shakespeare’s time, patrons who purchase these tickets will have an up-close-and-personal view of the revelry. For additional information visit theater.emory.edu.
Shakespeare Anniversary Celebration
On April 23, Theater Emory also hosts a Shakespeare Anniversary Celebration at various locations in and around the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, inviting students and faculty, local artists, and community members to join together for a twelve-hour tribute featuring performances, conversations, and festive gatherings. Events include a large-scale battle scene, a discussion with Atlanta musician Kendall Simpson on composing music for Shakespeare, performances from local artists including Staibdance and Callosum Collective, readings from prominent Atlanta Shakespearean actors, excerpts from Emory student theater productions, and, of course, comic diversions from a fool or two. High tea brings together Emory faculty in an informal conversation entitled “Shakespeare: What’s on Your Mind?” during which participants discuss their Shakespearean research, current passions, and new investigations in development.
The revelry of Theater Emory’s April 23 Shakespeare Anniversary Celebration begins at noon and ends with a midnight ritual inviting all attendees to honor the life and art of Shakespeare. More information along with a schedule and complete list of event locations can be found at theater.emory.edu starting April 1. This event is free and open to the public.